The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a 27-page letter to General Motors asking for detailed information and documents related to its probe into whether the carmaker waited too long before recalling 1.6 million vehicles in February. NHTSA gave GM an April 3 deadline to answer 107 questions about the recall -- many of which could require hundreds of pages in response.
GM’s recall covers 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2003-07 Saturn Ions and five other nameplates. The ignition switches in the models could trim power to the engine while driving and prevent the airbags from deploying during in a crash.
The issue has already been linked to 13 driver and front-passenger deaths from 2005 through 2009 and the carmaker has acknowledged that its engineers first encountered problems with the ignition switches in 2004. "We are a data-driven organization, and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us," NHTSA said in a statement.
GM said in an e-mailed statement that it is cooperating with NHTSA on the matter. "In addition to getting NHTSA the information they need, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers' safety and peace of mind," GM said in the statement. "We want our customers to know that today's GM is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns their trust."
NHTSA's requests include a detailed explanation of how the carmaker’s examination process "was not as robust as it should have been," as Alan Batey, GM's North American president, said as part of a public apology. NHTSA also wants GM to detail how it improve such processes NHTSA is also asking GM information on why a redesign to the cars' ignition key approved in 2005 was later canceled without being implemented.
The Federal regulator is also requesting for data on each complaint, including the date on which GM received each report. NHTSA is also requesting for details on all lawsuits related to the ignition problem as well as for an explanation on why its engineers failed determine until last year that the ignition switch supplier had changed the part's design in 2006. [source: automotive news - sub. required]